Solon cites need for gov’t to partner in distribution of COVID vaccines

Published January 11, 2021, 3:55 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo believes that the Philippine government should partner with different sectors in the procurement and distribution of anti-COVID vaccines for the daunting endeavor to be a success.

Kabayan party-list Rep. Ron Salo

“The sheer magnitude of this undertaking to inoculate all Filipinos in such a short span of time requires a whole of system and a whole of society approach. Neither the government nor the private sector can successfully undertake it alone,” Salo said Monday.

The first order of business is to bring the foreigner-made vaccines to Philippine shores in the most efficient way possible, the solon said.

“I think that procurement of COVID-19 vaccines should be undertaken by the government in partnership with international organizations such as the WHO (World Health Organization) and the UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund),” he said.

“This will achieve at least two things: We will be able to benefit from decreased cost associated with bulk procurement, as well as benefit from the expertise and moral ascendancy of these specialized international organizations,” the former UP law professor noted.

Salo said once the country secures its deals for vaccine supply, the challenge of storing and distributing the drug must then be addressed. And it’s no easy task given the nature of the vaccine, he said.

“The storage, distribution, and administration of these vaccines to our people should be undertaken by the government in partnership with the private sector,” he said.

American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., which jointly developed an anti-COVID vaccine with German biotech firm BioNTech SE, said their particular vaccine must be kept at a temperature of negative 70 degrees Celsius for 10 days if unopened. This raises the need for local cold storage facilities to ensure that the procured antigen won’t go to waste.

Incicentally, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is among the most promising and sought-after by countries due to its 95 percent efficacy rate claim.

Pfizer has designed distribution containers that can be used for temporary storage in a vaccination facility, such as a hospital, for up to 30 days as long as they refilled with dry ice every five days. Once thawed, the vaccines can be stored in a refrigerator at two to eight degrees Celsius for up to five days.

“We need to synergize the efforts, resources, and expertise of both the public and the private sectors to ensure the success of this massive undertaking,” Salo pointed out.